NATIONAL AWARD-WINNING PROGRAM
HUGH L. CAREY AWARD RECIPIENT
to Outside Initiative – Prison Puppy Raising Program
Once trained, a guide dog can be a gift of freedom for someone who is
blind or visually impaired. As a puppy, that same dog can offer a different kind
of freedom to the person who takes on the important job of providing care and guidance
until the dog is old enough to begin training—especially when that individual is
an inmate at a correctional facility.
For more than 70 years, Leader Dogs for the Blind (Leader Dogs) has
been an innovator in breeding and training golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers
and German shepherds to become guide dogs.
Each year, they pair more than 200 blind and visually impaired clients
with these dogs at a 26-day residential training program at Leader Dogs' campus
in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This event can be life-changing, opening the door
to greater independence, safety and self-worth.
In 2002, Leader Dogs expanded its ability to provide highly trained
guide dogs through a ground-breaking collaboration with the North Central Correctional
Facility, a minimum-security facility housing approximately 475 male inmates in
Calhoun County, Iowa.
The Prison Puppy Raising Program pairs future Leader Dogs with model
prisoners who have demonstrated they can be trusted to provide 24/7 care to a seven-week-old
puppy through its 12th to 15th month of life. Based on its overwhelming success,
the program now places nearly 100 puppies each year with inmates at six minimum-security
prisons (three in Iowa and one each in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota).
"Puppies raised in our partnering prisons experience a higher success
rate of being placed with a client who is blind after Leader Dog training than those
raised in a home setting. But it's not just the puppies and our clients that have
benefitted," explained Susan Daniels, CEO and President of Leader Dogs for the Blind.
"Inmates who have raised a puppy express pride and gratitude for the chance to give
something back to the community. Equally important, the experience seems to change
their behavior once they leave prison. There is a marked reduction in the rate of
recidivism of inmates who served as puppy raisers."
Leader Dogs for the Blind
Inside to Outside Initiative – Prison Puppy Raising Program
Lions Clubs International
North Central Correctional Facility, Rockwell City, Iowa
Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, Fort Dodge, Iowa
Newton Correctional Facility, Newton, Iowa
Chippewa Correctional Facility, Kincheloe, Michigan
Minnesota Correctional Facility, Lino Lakes, Minnesota
The Sangor B. Powers Correctional Facility, Oneida, Wisconsin
Purina Pro Plan